When The Boy was 2 we had a series of incidents at his daycare. He had a friend that he had spent every day with since they were about 6 weeks old. This boy’s parent stopped talking to The Wife and I, and rumors started flowing around the daycare.
We eventually found out that our son had started to become friends with other kids in the class and this boy didn’t take well to that. He would cry and complain and tell his parents that our son was mean to him because our son was paying attention to other kids. This is the first time my child was ever called a bully. To my knowledge, it is the only time someone has called my child a bully. Until this past weekend. (Edit for clarification—as Liz and Jay point out in the comments, and I agree, the use of the term bully in response to my child’s behavior in this incident is a misuse of the term. I do believe it is used appropriately in the events below.)
I think some people may not realize when they’re bullying someone. Here’s a hint — if you wouldn’t like someone doing to you what you’re doing to them, you’re being a bully. – Chris Kluwe
What happened? I’m glad you asked. Because I was going to tell you anyway. Last Saturday The Little One drew this awesome picture.
I was so proud of him that I posted the picture to my twitter and Facebook feeds. It’s pretty good for a kid who won’t be six for another couple of months. Everything was going well until Sunday morning when I hear this exchange:
The Boy: I don’t care! I don’t want to be part of it!
Little one: I spent a lot of time on that!
Then came the yelling and crying. This is what I found when I went to look:
Here’s a side by side to make the change easier to see.
I sat my son down and explained to him what he had done. He was deliberately doing something to make his brother feel bad. He was bullying him. The Boy was shocked. He cried. He apologized. He offered to redraw himself.
Eventually everyone calmed down and we had a discussion about it. This is when I realized that he bullies his brother a lot. Sometimes we call it big brothering, but it boils down to being bossy, or mean, or not inclusive, or any number of other things that are typical sibling behaviors. Now that we are aware of it, we are trying to create a plan to help him avoid these behaviors. But it’s hard. These are typical ways for a big brother to behave when he is tired of his little brother following him around. I surely treated my brother this way. I’m sure my dad’s brother treated him this way. And so on, back to the earliest brothers in our line. I mean, didn’t one of Adam’s children do unspeakable things to the other in the book of Genesis?
So, as with most things in our family, I turned to books. I tried to come up with some non-typical bullying books that he might share with his brother so they can continue to talk about this topic. Here is my short list, links go to the Goodreads page for each book. Please add your own in the comments below.